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Protein and exercise

Written by Kevin, Nutritionist (M.Sc. Medical Science)

Protein is essential for anyone who enjoys sport, wishes to stay fit, keep muscles active and furthermore, increase muscle growth. 

Protein is the main element of our muscle structure and contains essential amino acids which are vital to every metabolic process in the body. They are also responsible for overall muscle health both during and after training. The big question asked by many athletes is, when is the ideal time to consume protein? There are various theories on the positive effects of consuming protein before or after training, but no scientific proof which favours one time over another.

Supportive research suggests that if we consume protein before exercise the amino acids it contains can help supply energy and protect against muscle loss.

If you consume additional protein after exercise, the amino acids it contains should help build and regenerate muscle and achieve an increased level of protein synthesis. Thus muscle loss is prevented and the empty glycogen stores can be replenished.

 A comprehensive meta-analysis which evaluated the results of numerous research studies demonstrated that there are studies which support both theories; some show that there are benefits to consuming protein at a certain time, while others argue against. Based on this we can conclude that there is no scientifically confirmed answer to the question of whether consuming protein at one specific time brings greater benefits than the other.

Regardless of when you consume protein, what is certain is that you should consume a sufficient amount if you engage in physical activity. What is of greater importance is the actual quality of the protein source. Shakes with multi-component proteins, i.e. a blend of plant and animal protein are ideal as their amino acids complement one another and increase the biological value of the individual elements.

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